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NYT Decision to Publish Drove LAT Decision

Last night in an interview on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, LA Times Washington Bureau chief Doyle McManus told Hugh that the LAT had not decided whether to publish details of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program when the NYT posted its story online:

HH: Now what I’m wondering, though, is, how did you balance? What probability did you assign to the terrorist tack [sic] that doesn’t get stopped because of this story?
DM: Well, I can’t give you a mathematical formula on that. And as a matter of fact, when we made our decision to publish our story, the New York Times had already published its. So as a matter of fact, we had not had the set of discussions that we had scheduled on precisely how to balance that. So in a sense, I can’t tell you how we balanced it, because we ended up not coming to a final decision. Now I don’t mean to be disingenuous. We were certainly leaning in the direction of publishing, but we hadn’t finally decided to.

The New York Times made the decision for every news organization when it decided to publish its story. Until the NYT revealed the details of the program, they were secret. Even though the LAT was leaning toward publishing, its editors had not reached a final decision. Bill Keller decided for them.


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